5. Travel Policies and Regulations

Table of Contents

5.0 Travel Policies and Regulations

5.1 Travel Policies for State Employees

5.2 Travel Policies for State Officials

5.3 Travel Policies for Members of State Boards, Commissions, Committees, and Councils (Other than Licensing Boards and Members of the General Assembly)

5.4 Travel Policies for Agency Committees Not Established by G.S. 143B-10(d)

5.5 Travel Policies for Licensing Boards (Other than State Employees)

5.6 Travel Policies for Members of the General Assembly Serving on State Boards, Commissions, Committees, and Councils

5.7 Travel Policies for Non-State Employees

5.8 Conferences, Seminars, Workshops, Training Sessions and Retreats

5.9 Informal Meetings with Guests of Department Heads

5.10 Telephone Calls

5.11 Mobile Communication Device

 

5.0 Travel Policies and Regulations

5.0.1 Purpose

Statutory regulations for per diem, transportation, and subsistence allowances for state departments, agencies, boards, commissions, committees, and councils are contained in G.S. 138-5, 138-6, and 138-7. It is the intent of this section to provide statements of policy to enable state departments and agencies a comprehensive reference for uniform interpretation to pay or reimburse allowable state travel expenses pertaining to official travel and subsistence.

5.0.2 Employee Responsibility

An employee traveling on official state business is expected to exercise the same care in incurring expenses that a prudent person would exercise if traveling on personal business and expending personal funds. Excess costs, circuitous routes, delays, or luxury accommodations and services unnecessary, unjustified, or for the convenience or personal preference of the employee in the performance of official state business are prohibited. The State has authorized the use of credit cards for employees during travel on official state business. These cards are distributed at the discretion of the department head. Employees will be responsible for unauthorized costs and any additional expenses incurred for personal preference or convenience. Employee misuse of state-issued credit cards is grounds for termination. Pursuant to G.S. 138-6(c), requests for reimbursement shall be filed within 30 days after the travel period ends for which the reimbursement is being requested.

5.0.3 Official State Business

These policies are intended to apply only to those state employees or other persons on official state business. Official state business occurs when the State employee or other person is traveling to attend approved job related training, work on behalf of, officially represent, or provide a state service upon the State's request. Travel that would not directly benefit the State will not be reimbursable.

 

5.1 Travel Policies for State Employees

5.1.1 Per Diem Compensation

Per diem compensation is not applicable for state employees, only to members of State Boards, Commissions, Committees and Councils who do not receive any salary from state funds for their services.

5.1.2 Subsistence Rates

Subsistence is an allowance related to lodging and meal costs (including gratuities) (G.S. 138-6). For the purposes of determining eligibility for allowances, travel status means being away from the employee's normal duty station or home and, while traveling, the employee must be acting in his/her official capacity as required by his/her work activities.

For the 2017-19 biennium, the maximum allowable statutory rate for meals and lodging (subsistence) is $109.50 for in-state travel and $125.10 for out-of-state travel. The Director of the Budget revises the subsistence rate periodically based on the percentage change in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (G.S. 138-6(a)(5)). The payment of sales tax, lodging tax, local tax, or service fees applied to the cost of lodging is allowed in addition to the lodging rate and is to be paid as a lodging expense (G.S. 138-6(a)(3)).

The employee may exceed the part of the ceiling allocated for lodging without approval for over-expenditure provided that the total lodging and food reimbursement that the employee is entitled to for that day does not exceed the maximum allowed daily subsistence (G.S. 138-6(a)(3)).

The following schedule (effective July 1, 2017) shall be used for reporting allowable subsistence expenses incurred while traveling on official state business:

  In-State Out of State
Breakfast $ 8.40 $ 8.40
Lunch $ 11.00 $ 11.00
Dinner $ 18.90 $ 21.60
Lodging (actual, up to) $ 71.20 $ 84.10
    Total $ 109.50 $ 125.10

5.1.3 Tips and Gratuity

Reimbursable gratuity or tips must be considered reasonable for items that are not already covered under subsistence. Excessive tips will not be reimbursed. A reasonable tip would be one that a prudent person would give if traveling or conducting personal business and expending personal funds.

For further guidance, the following information is provided when calculating a tip:

  • Airports: Baggage Handling/Skycaps = no more than $2 per bag; Shuttle Drivers = no more than $2 per bag.
  • Parking/Auto Related: Valets = $2 per car when collecting the car; Taxi Drivers = 15% of the fare and $1 - $2 a bag.

5.1.4 Out-of-State Travel

Out-of-state travel status begins when the employee leaves the state and remains in effect until the employee returns to the state. However, in-state allowances and reimbursement rates apply when employees and other qualified official travelers use hotel and meal facilities located in North Carolina immediately prior to and returning from out-of-state travel during the same travel period.

5.1.5 Authorization for Lodging

Prior written approval by the department head or his or her designee must be obtained in order to qualify for reimbursement for overnight stays. Supervisory personnel certifying the reimbursement request as necessary and proper must require documentation from the traveler to substantiate that the overnight lodging was necessary and accomplished. The travel must involve a travel destination located at least 35 miles from the employee's regularly assigned duty station or home, whichever is less, to receive approved reimbursement. "Duty station" is defined as the location where the employee is assigned. The designation of an employee's home as the duty station requires the approval of the department head.

5.1.6 Reimbursement for Lodging

Each employee is responsible for his or her own request for reimbursement. The travel must involve a travel destination located at least 35 miles from the employee's regularly assigned duty station or home, whichever is less. Requests for reimbursement shall be filed within 30 days after the travel period ends for which the reimbursement is being requested (G.S. 138.6). Specific dates of lodging must be listed on the reimbursement request, which shall be substantiated by a receipt from a commercial lodging establishment, not to exceed $71.20 per night for in-state lodging or $84.10 per night for out-of-state lodging.

Telephone access fees for business calls are considered a miscellaneous expense. Telephone access fees for personal calls are only reimbursable if they comply with the policy found later in this section.

5.1.7 Excess Lodging

Excess lodging authorization for in-state, out-of-state, and out-of-country travel must be obtained in advance from the department head or his or her designee. Excess lodging is allowed when the employee is in a high cost area and unable to secure lodging within the current allowance, or when the employee submits in writing an opinion that his/her personal safety or security is unattainable within the current allowance. Excess lodging authorization is not allowed for reason of convenience or personal preference for the employee. The employee may exceed the part of the ceiling allocated for lodging without approval from department head of his or her designee provided that the total lodging and food reimbursement does not exceed the maximum daily subsistence.

5.1.8 Third Party Lodging

Reimbursement for lodging in an establishment that is being rented out by a third party or an establishment treated as an apartment building by state or local law or regulation is not allowed unless approved by OSBM in advance of the travel for which third-party lodging is requested. Requests for third party lodging must provide evidence of savings to the State. An exception may be granted by OSBM for requests that do not show a savings with sufficient justification to support the necessity for third party lodging. Third party lodging agreements are not allowed among family members.

In each case where third party lodging is being considered, the applicant must provide their budget officer and OSBM all details regarding the arrangement, including the amount to be charged, the length of stay, and contact information. A signed rental agreement and documentation of agency budget office and OSBM approval must be presented to receive reimbursement.

Universities or NCSSM designated as special responsibility constituent institutions (SRCI) pursuant to G.S. 138.6G.S. 116-30.1 may authorize third-party lodging without OSBM approval if the institution develops an internal Third-Party Lodging Policy. This policy must be submitted and approved by OSBM prior to delegation of authority from OSBM. Upon receipt of OSBM approval of the Third-Party Lodging Policy, the institution must make the policy available to all impacted campus employees. At a minimum, the policy must include the following:

  1. Documentation required to show evidence of savings to the State, based on approved in-state and out-of-state lodging rates.
  2. Guidelines for determining appropriate comparison hotels when requests exceed State lodging rates, but may still demonstrate evidence of savings to the State.
  3. Criteria the campus will follow to grant an exception if the request does not provide evidence of savings to the State.
  4. Requirement to gain advance approval and provide a signed rental agreement in order to receive reimbursement.
  5. Prohibition of lease agreements with family members. And attesting to no financial conflict of interest with the owner of the property.
  6. Statement identifying the Chancellor or the Chancellor’s designee as the approval authority for all requests.

5.1.9 Penalties and Charges Resulting from Cancellations

Penalties and charges resulting from the cancellation of travel reservations (including airline, hotel, or other travel reservations and conference registration) shall be the department's obligation if the employee's travel has been approved in advance and the cancellation or change is made at the direction of and/or for the convenience of the department. If the cancellation or change is made for the personal benefit of the employee, it shall be the employee's obligation to pay the penalties and charges. However, in the event of accidents, serious illness, or death within the employee's immediate family or other critical circumstances beyond the control of the employee, the department may pay the penalties and charges.

5.1.10 Authorization for Meals

Prior written approval by the department head or his or her designee must be obtained in order to qualify for reimbursement for meals. Supervisory personnel certifying the reimbursement request as necessary and proper must require documentation from the traveler to substantiate that the payment for meals was necessary and accomplished.

5.1.11 Reimbursement for Meals

Each employee is responsible for his or her own request for reimbursement. Tips for meals are included in the meal allowance. Each meal reimbursement rate must be listed on the reimbursement request. Departure and arrival times must also be listed on the reimbursement request. The costs of meals included in other related activities (registration fees, conference costs, hotel registration, etc.) may not be duplicated in reimbursement requests. An employee may be reimbursed, if requested, for breakfast even if their lodging establishment offers a free continental breakfast.

State rules and guidelines shall take precedence over federal guidelines governing the use of federal grant funds.

5.1.12 Meals during Overnight Travel

A state employee may be reimbursed for meals, including lunches, while on official state business when the employee is in overnight travel status. The destination must be located at least 35 miles from the employee's regularly assigned duty station or home, whichever is less, to receive approved reimbursement.

5.1.13 Meals during Daily Travel

Employees may be reimbursed for meals for partial days of travel when in overnight travel status and the partial day is the day of departure or the day of return. The following applies:

  • Breakfast: depart duty station prior to 6:00 am and extend the workday by 2 hours.
  • Lunch: depart duty station prior to Noon (day of departure) or return to duty station after 2:00 p.m. (day of return).
  • Dinner: depart duty station prior to 5:00 p.m. (day of departure) or return to duty station after 8:00 p.m. (day of return and extend the workday by 3 hours.
  • The travel must involve a travel destination located at least 35 miles from the employee's regularly assigned duty station or home, whichever is less.

Allowances cannot be paid to employees for lunches if travel does not involve an overnight stay; however, employees can be eligible for allowances for the breakfast and evening meals when the following applies:

  • Breakfast (morning): depart duty station prior to 6:00 am and extend the workday by 2 hours.
  • Dinner (evening): return to duty station after 8:00 pm and extend the workday by 3 hours.
  • Allowances for the breakfast and evening meals for employees working nontraditional shifts must have prior approval of OSBM.

5.1.14 Meals and Day-to-Day Activities

State employees may not be reimbursed for meals in conjunction with a congress, conference, assembly, convocation or meeting, or by whatever name called, of employees within a single state department, institution or agency, or between the employees of two or more state departments, institutions or agencies to discuss issues relating to the employee's normal day-to-day business activities.

5.1.15 Meals for Required Employee Attendance

A state employee may be reimbursed for meals, including lunches, when the employee's job requires his attendance at the meeting of a board, commission, committee, or council in his official capacity and the meal is preplanned as part of the meeting for the entire board, commission, committee or council. Such board, commission, committee, or council must include persons other than the employees of a single state department, institution, or agency.

5.1.16 Meals and Commercial Air Travel

Employees are allowed to claim reimbursement for meals even if they are shown and offered as a part of one's flight schedule on a commercial airline. Employees must provide receipts for reimbursement for those items purchased while in flight.

5.1.17 Excess Meals

No excess reimbursement will be allowed for meals unless there are predetermined charges, or the meals were for out-of-country travel. The department head or his or her designee may grant excess subsistence for meals for out-of-country travel.

5.1.18 Convention Registration

State law allows reimbursement of the actual amount of convention registration fees as shown by a valid receipt or invoice (G.S. 138.6)

5.1.19 Passports

Reimbursement for costs incurred in obtaining or renewing a passport may be made to an employee who, in the regular course of his duties, is required to travel overseas in the furtherance of official state business. Passport expenses are chargeable to the same fund that supports the employee's trip.

5.1.20 Transportation by Common Carrier

Reimbursement for air, rail, or bus fare is limited to actual coach fare, substantiated by receipt. Reimbursement for check–in fees is limited to actual costs substantiated by receipt.

5.1.21 Super Saver Rates

When traveling by common carrier to conduct official state business, employees traveling to their destination earlier than necessary and/or delaying their return to avail the state of reduced transportation rates may be reimbursed subsistence for additional travel days if, in the opinion of the department head or his or her designee, the amount saved due to the early and/or delayed travel is greater than the amount expended in additional subsistence. When the reduced airfare rates require staying overnight one Saturday night, to be eligible for reimbursement, the state employee must stay overnight on the Saturday closest to the first or last day of official state business to which the employee is attending.

With sufficient justification, the department head or his or her designee can make an exception to this requirement prior to travel commencing.

5.1.22 Transportation by International Flights

Employees traveling internationally on overseas flights may be reimbursed actual business class fare (substantiated by receipt) with prior approval of the department head or his or her designee.

5.1.24 Coupons or Certificates for Reduced Air Fare

Coupons or certificates for reduced air fare, if acquired by a state employee while traveling on state business at state expense, are the property of the State and should be used, to the extent possible, by the State employee on future state business trips.

5.1.25 Fees and Service Charges

With sufficient justification and documentation and with approval of the department head or his or her designee, state employees can be reimbursed for usual, customary, and reasonable fees and services charges imposed by travel agents for assistance in making travel arrangements.

5.1.26 Transportation by Personal Vehicle

It is the intent of the State that state employee travel shall be conducted in the most efficient manner and at the lowest and most reasonable cost to the state. With regard to passenger vehicle travel, whether in- or out-of-state, agency travel policies shall:

  • Maximize utilization of state-owned vehicles (agency-owned or agency-assigned vehicles owned by the Department of Administration),
  • Make use of State term contracts for short-term rentals (State Term Contract 975B Vehicle Rental Services), and
  • Reimburse for use of personal vehicles on a limited basis.

Agencies are encouraged to establish policies that promote efficient travel, such as ride-sharing. When State-owned resources are not available, the agency may procure vehicles through the State’s term contracts or reimburse use of personal vehicles. If a state employee chooses to use a personal vehicle, actual mileage is reimbursable. Mileage is measured from the closer of duty station or point of departure to destination (and return). A state employee shall be reimbursed the business standard mileage rate set by the Internal Revenue Service (53.5 cents per mile effective January 1, 2017) when using their personal vehicle for state business when the trip does not exceed 100 miles per day of travel. However, if a state employee chooses to use a personal vehicle when the trip exceeds 100 miles per day of travel, all departments and agencies will reimburse the employee at the business standard mileage rate set by the Internal Revenue Service for 100 miles per day with any additional miles over 100 miles per day of travel reimbursed at the medical or moving purposes rate set by the Internal Revenue Service (17 cents per mile effective January 1, 2017). OSBM will not consider exceptions to this policy. Parking fees, tolls, and storage fees are reimbursable when the required receipts are obtained. Fines for traffic and parking violations are the responsibility of the state employee.

5.1.27 Transportation by a Rental Vehicle

For both in-state and out-of-state travel, rental vehicles shall be obtained through the State’s term contracts when available. Unless prior approval has been obtained from the department head or his or her designee, the state employee shall bear the difference in cost when renting a vehicle from a class that exceeds the cost of a standard vehicle on the State’s term contract for short-term vehicle rentals. No reimbursement will be made for rental insurance purchased because state employees are covered under the State’s auto insurance program. However, reimbursement for automobile rental insurance will be permitted for individuals engaged in state business during travel to international destinations. Rental vehicles paid for by funds deposited with the State Treasurer are not authorized for personal use.

5.1.28 Transportation by State Vehicle

Procedures for obtaining and using state vehicles owned by the Division of Motor Fleet Management (Department of Administration) are set out in the Rules and Regulations provided by that division. Every individual who uses a permanently assigned state-owned passenger motor vehicle, pickup truck, or van to drive between his or her official workstation and his or her home shall reimburse the State for these trips at a rate computed by the Department of Administration.

Note: Agencies are allowed one vehicle wash per month for permanently assigned Motor Fleet Management vehicles not to exceed $15.00. A reimbursable tip not to exceed $2.00 per wash is allowed with appropriate receipt.

5.1.29 Transportation by Chartered Aircraft

The use of charter aircraft must be approved by the department head or his or her designee, provided the following is substantiated and put in writing:

  • A state aircraft is not available or not appropriate for the size of the party traveling or the destination airport.
  • The use of a charter flight is more economical than a commercial flight.
  • The use of a charter flight is necessary because of unusual travel circumstances.

5.1.30 Use of Aircraft Owned by a State Employee

Reimbursement for costs incurred in the use of aircraft, owned by a state employee, on official state business may be approved by the department head or his or her designee, provided the following is substantiated and put in writing:

  • The use of the aircraft owned by a state employee is necessary because of unusual travel circumstances and is not for the sole convenience of the employee who owns the plane.
  • The use of the aircraft, owned by a state employee, at the rates published below, is cheaper than any other method of air travel.
  • The allowable reimbursement rate for aircraft owned by a state employee is $0.68 per mile per passenger.

5.1.31 Non-state Employee Riders

Non-state employees may accompany state employees in state-owned vehicles when they have a business interest in the purpose of the trip and their presence is related to state business. Students of state universities, colleges, and institutions may be passengers in state-owned vehicles to attend athletic events and other activities officially sanctioned by the institution, provided the proper account is reimbursed at the standard mileage cost rate by the student activity fund involved. Spouses and children of state employees may accompany them in state-owned vehicles, if space is available and all travel is strictly for official state business (G.S. 143-341(8)(i)(7)) grants Department of Administration rule-making authority in this area]. Hitchhikers are not permitted to ride in state-owned vehicles.

5.1.32 Transportation by State Vehicle at Destination

At the employee's destination, state-owned vehicles may be used prudently for travel to obtain meals, but not for private purposes or for entertainment while off duty. No common carrier or public transportation fares are reimbursable on a trip on which an employee uses a state-owned vehicle, unless it is shown that such transportation was more economical in a particular situation.

5.1.33 Commuting

No reimbursement shall be made for the use of a personal vehicle in commuting from an employee's home to his duty station. (No mileage reimbursement is allowed to employees on "call back" status.) For the State's policy on compensation to employees on "call back" status, see the State Human Resources Manual.

5.1.34 Use of Public Safety Vehicle for Commuting

No state employee shall be exempt from payment of reimbursement for commuting except as provided for in G.S. 143-341(7a). The provisions of this rule do not apply to clearly marked police and fire vehicles or unmarked law-enforcement vehicles that are used in undercover work and are operated by full-time sworn law enforcement officers whose primary duties include carrying a firearm, executing search warrants, and making arrests. The Department of Administration shall report quarterly to the Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations on individuals who use state owned vehicles between their official work stations and their homes, who do not reimburse the State for these trips.

The rate of reimbursement shall approximate the benefit derived from the use of the vehicle as prescribed by federal law and shall be determined by the Department of Administration. Reimbursement shall be for 20 days per month regardless of how many days the individual uses the vehicle to commute during the month. Reimbursement shall be made by payroll deduction each month from the employee's check and deposited as a refund of expenditure to the fund/center and account where the motor fleet bill is paid.

5.1.35 Travel to/from Airport at Employee's Duty Station

Reimbursement for travel between the employee's duty station or home (whichever is less) and the nearest airline terminal (or train/bus station if applicable) and for parking may be made under the following circumstances. For travel by:

  • Taxi or Airport Shuttle - actual costs with receipts.
  • Private Car - the business standard mileage rate set by the Internal Revenue Services for a maximum of two round trips with no parking charge, or for one round trip with parking charges. Receipts are required for airport parking claims.
  • Use of Public Transportation – In lieu of using a taxi or airport shuttle, employees can be reimbursed without receipts $5 for each one-way trip either from the airport to the hotel/meeting or from the hotel/meeting to the airport or the actual cost of the travel with the submission of receipts.

5.1.36 Travel to/from Airport at Employee's Destination

Reimbursement for travel to and from the airline terminal (or train/bus station if applicable) at the employee's destination may be made where travel is via most economical mode available as listed below:

  • Taxi or Airport Shuttle service – actual costs with receipts.
  • Rental Vehicles - may be used with the prior approval of the department head or his or her designee; however, rental vehicles may not be used for the sole convenience of the employee (receipt required).
  • Use of Public Transportation – In lieu of using a taxi or airport shuttle, employees can be reimbursed without receipts $5 for each one-way trip either from the airport to the hotel/meeting or from the hotel/meeting to the airport or the actual cost of the travel with the submission of receipts.

5.1.37 Parking

Parking expenses are reimbursable while in the course of conducting official State business as long as such expenses are determined reasonable and clearly show that there was care taken to keep the costs to the State as low as possible. Any parking rates considered excessive and only for the convenience of the traveler will not be reimbursable. An example of excessive or inappropriate parking would be the use of an airport's hourly parking lot for an overnight trip.

5.1.38 Travel Involving Trips Other than to and from the Airport

The actual costs of taxi and shuttle service fares are reimbursable when required for travel on official state business. The request must be documented with a receipt. The use of public transportation is reimbursable for actual costs with a receipt.

5.1.39 Authorization for Out-of-Country Travel

All out-of-country travel must be authorized by the department head or such department official designated by him or her.

Out-of-country travel status begins when the employee leaves the country and remains in effect until the employee returns to the country. If the employee and other qualified official travelers use hotel and meal facilities located outside North Carolina, but within the continental United States, immediately prior to and upon returning from out-of-country travel but during the same travel period, out-of-state subsistence rates shall apply.

5.1.40 Travel Advances

All employees who travel on state business may be issued advances when authorized by the department head or his or her designee in order that personal funds will not be required. Fiscal records must be maintained by the department for proper control.

Eligibility for advances and reporting requirements are as follows:

  • State employees who have been issued state credit cards for travel purposes should not be issued travel advances, unless there is substantiated justification.
  • Travel advances for occasional travel must not exceed the estimated cost of the trip and may not be issued more than five working days prior to the date of departure. Advances must be deducted from the reimbursement request on the travel expense report that is to be submitted within 30 days after the travel period or June 30, whichever comes first.
  • Travel advances for regularly scheduled travel for employees who travel each month may be made through an annual advance of funds equal to the average monthly expense. All reimbursement requests shall be filed and paid monthly for incurred expenses and the advance must be repaid as of June 30 annually or earlier if required by the agency. If it is determined that the monthly reimbursement has averaged less than the annual advancement, the advance must be reduced to the newly established amount.

 

5.2 Travel Policies for State Officials

5.2.1 Political Functions

State officials, both elected and appointed, sometimes attend political functions or meetings. The following policies are intended to be guidelines for the payment from state funds for travel and subsistence costs surrounding the attendance of state public officials at political functions or meetings.

5.2.2 Travel Related to a Political Function

No state funds may be used to pay travel and/or subsistence costs for a state official while attending a political function or meeting. In the event a state-owned aircraft is used, the reimbursement rate will be the actual operating cost rate per flight hour. If a state-owned vehicle is used, the reimbursement rate to the State will be the motor pool rate.

5.2.3 Travel Related to Official State Business that Includes Political Functions

If a trip includes both official state business and political functions or meetings, state funds may be used to pay up to one-half of the travel and/or subsistence costs. In the event that a state-owned aircraft is used, the cost to the State will be charged at the regular rate per flight hour and the charge to a non-state source will be at the actual operating cost rate per flight hour. If a state-owned vehicle is used, the reimbursement rate to the State will be the motor pool rate.

5.2.4 All Other Travel

Travel reimbursement policies and regulations for all other travel for state officials is the same as for state employees.

 

5.3 Travel Policies for Members of State Boards, Commissions, Committees, and Councils (Other than Licensing Boards and Members of the General Assembly)

5.3.1 Per Diem Compensation

Pursuant to G.S. 138-5(a)(1), non-state employees who are members of state boards, commissions, committees, and councils shall receive $15 per day of official service, unless otherwise specified. State employees and members of all state boards, commissions, and councils whose salaries or any portion of whose salaries are paid from state funds shall receive no per diem compensation from state funds for their services. It is the responsibility of the fiscal officer of the Board, Commission, Committee, or Council to insure that such per diem compensation is not paid to state employees.

As of January 1, 2017, due to a recent legal advisory opinion that board and commission members who receive a stipend or per diem are employees for employment tax purposes. Payments to these individuals are subject to income tax and social security/Medicare tax withholding. These changes require all compensation paid to board and commission members to be reported on IRS Form W-2 instead of IRS Form 1099 for tax year 2017 and forward.

If a board or commission member chooses to waive the stipend or per diem compensation for the duration of the member’s tenure on the Board, the agency must obtain a written release to document the member’s decision.

Questions regarding the taxation of a stipend or per diem should be referred to the Office of State Controller or to appropriate legal counsel.

5.3.2 Subsistence

Subsistence for non-state employee members of state boards, councils, commissions, or committees is a daily, lump-sum allowance payable per day of official service, provided that meals are not furnished. Meals and lodging are to be reimbursed as follows:

  • In-State Travel:
    • $38.30 for meals (less subsistence rate for any meal furnished – see section 5.1.2 for schedule). No overnight stay is required.
    • Actual expenses up to $71.20 lodging documented by a receipt of actual lodging expenses for a commercial lodging establishment.

  • Out-of-State Travel:
    • $41.00 for meals (less subsistence rate for any meal furnished – see section 5.1.2 for schedule). No overnight stay is required.
    • Actual expenses up to $84.10 lodging documented by a receipt of actual lodging expenses for a commercial lodging establishment.

5.3.3 Excess Subsistence

Authorization for excess expenses for in-state or out-of-state travel may be granted by the department head or the board chairperson or his/her designee when such costs are included in registration fees and/or there are predetermined charges.

5.3.4 Authorization for Out-of-state travel

Expenses for out-of-state travel on official business shall be reimbursed only upon authorization obtained in the manner prescribed by regulations governing out-of-state travel for state employees.

5.3.5 Transportation

Transportation policies and regulations are the same as those for state employees, except that a mileage reimbursement rate set by any other law through reference to G.S. 138-6(a)(1) is established at 25 cents per mile, not the IRS rate.

5.3.6 Subsistence of State Employees Serving as Board Members

As allowed under G.S. 138-6, a state employee who is a member of a state board, commission, committee or council that operates from funds deposited with the State Treasurer may be reimbursed for the actual cost of any meal (including lunch) eaten while on official state business if the meal is preplanned as part of the meeting for the entire board, commission, committee, or council. However, when an overnight stay is required, the State employee is limited to a daily subsistence reimbursement as follows:

  • In-State Travel
    • $38.30 for meals.
    • Actual expenses up to $71.20 lodging documented by a receipt of actual lodging expenses for a commercial lodging establishment.

  • Out-of-State
    • $41.00 for meals.
    • Actual expenses up to $84.10 lodging documented by a receipt of actual lodging expenses for a commercial lodging establishment.

5.3.7 No Overnight Stay

When an overnight stay is not required, the State employee is allowed the actual cost of any meal (including lunch) eaten while on official state business if the meal is preplanned as part of the meeting for the entire board, commission, committee or council.

5.3.8 Other Meals

If the employee is eligible for reimbursement for any other meal, that reimbursement is limited by the same reimbursement amounts and regulations as those allowed for in-state and out-of-state travel by a state employee who is not a member of a state board, commission, committee, or council.

5.3.9 Meetings

Refreshments (i.e., coffee, soft drinks, cookies, doughnuts) may be served at official board meetings. Reimbursement may be paid from state funds for the actual cost not to exceed $4.50 per member and required staff, per meeting per day. "Required Staff" shall be defined as an employee who, in the regular course of his duties, is expected to attend the meeting and any other employee whose presence is necessary to accomplish a purpose of the meeting.

 

5.4 Travel Policies for Agency Committees Not Established by G.S. 143B-10(d)

An employee of any department, institution, or agency that operates from funds deposited with the State Treasurer, who is appointed to an agency committee not established by G.S. 143B-10(d), is subject to subsistence policies and regulations that apply to state employees.

Non-state employees who are members of agency committees not established by G.S. 143B-10(d) shall follow the travel policy in section 5.7 - Travel Policies for Non-State Employees.

 

5.5 Travel Policies for Licensing Boards (Other than State Employees)

5.5.1 Per Diem Compensation

Pursuant to G.S. 93B-5, non-state employee members of licensing boards shall receive $100.00 per day of official service. State employees and members of all licensing boards whose salaries or any portion of whose salaries are paid from state funds shall receive no per diem compensation from state funds for their services. It is the responsibility of the budget officer of the licensing board to insure that such per diem compensation is not paid to state employees.

As of January 1, 2017, the IRS has issued an advisory opinion that board and commission members who receive a stipend or per diem are employees for employment tax purposes. Payments to these individuals are subject to income tax and social security/Medicare tax withholding. These changes require all compensation paid to board and commission members to be reported on IRS Form W-2 instead of IRS Form 1099 for tax year 2017 and forward. Please see section 5.3.1 for more information.

5.5.2 Subsistence

Subsistence policies and regulations are the same as those for state employees.

5.5.3 Convention Registration

Convention registration policies and regulations are the same as those for state employees.

5.5.4 Transportation

Transportation policies and regulations are the same as those for state employees, except that a mileage reimbursement rate set by G.S. 138-6(a)(1) is established at 25 cents per mile, not the IRS rate.

5.5.5 Meetings

Refreshments (i.e., coffee, soft drinks, cookies, doughnuts) may be served at official board meetings. Reimbursement may be paid from state funds for the actual cost not to exceed $4.50 per member and required staff, per meeting per day. "Required Staff" shall be defined as an employee who, in the regular course of his duties, is expected to attend the meeting and any other employee whose presence is necessary to accomplish a purpose of the meeting.

 

5.6 Travel Policies for Members of the General Assembly Serving on State Boards, Commissions, Committees, and Councils

5.6.1 Per Diem Compensation

Pursuant to G.S. 120-3.1, per diem compensation is not applicable.

5.6.2 Subsistence

A member of the General Assembly shall receive a subsistence allowance for meals and lodging at a daily rate (which is currently $111.00) equal to the maximum per diem rate for federal employees traveling to Raleigh, N.C., as set out at 58 Federal Register 67959 (December 22, 1993), while the General Assembly remains in session, and, except as otherwise provided in this subsection when, with the approval of the Speaker of the House in the case of Representatives or the President Pro Tempore of the Senate in case of Senators, the member is:

  • Traveling as a representative of the General Assembly or of its committees or commissions;
  • Otherwise in the service of the State.

5.6.3 Excess Subsistence

A member who is authorized to travel, whether in or out of session, within the United States but outside of North Carolina may elect to receive, in lieu of the amount provided in the preceding paragraph, a subsistence allowance of twenty-six dollars ($26.00) a day for meals, plus actual expenses for lodging when evidenced by a receipt satisfactory to the Legislative Services Officer, not to exceed the maximum per diem rate for federal employees traveling to the same place, as set out at 58 Federal Register 67950-67964 (December 22, 1993) and at 59 Federal Register 23702-23709 (May 6, 1996) (G.S. 120-3.1(a)(3)b).

5.6.4 Transportation

A member will receive a travel allowance at the rate equal to the business standard mileage rate set by the Internal Revenue Service whenever the member travels, whether in or out of session, as a representative of the General Assembly or of its committees or commissions, with the approval of the Legislative Services Commission.

5.6.5 Convention Registration

Convention registration policies and regulations are the same as those for state employees.

 

5.7 Travel Policies for Non-State Employees

5.7.1 Non-state Employees

For the purposes of this section, non-state employees are those on official state business whose expenses are paid by the State and subject to state regulations, such as prospective professional employees, public school and community college employees, students on official state business, and attendants of handicapped state employees traveling on official state business (provided advance approval is obtained from department head or designee).

Non-state employees traveling on official state business whose expenses are paid by the State are subject to these regulations, including statutory subsistence allowances, to the same extent as are State employees. Travel expenses for members of a non-employee's family are not eligible to be paid by the State.No travel advances will be made to non-state employees.

5.7.2 Prospective Professional Employees

A department head or his or her designee is authorized to approve reimbursement of transportation expenses of prospective professional employees visiting state departments for employment interviews. These expenses are limited to transportation and subsistence for 3 days (5 days if one is a Saturday) at the in-state rate. The department head or his or her designee may approve excess lodging expenses.

5.7.3 Post-secondary Students

Student travel expenses while working as an employee of the State are considered official state business when traveling on behalf of their position and shall be paid from the same source of funds from which the employee is paid. Non-employee students at state institutions who travel on official state business are reimbursed from the General Fund consistent with payments for state employees. Non-employee students who travel to fulfill a course requirement for academic credit and whose expenses are paid or reimbursed by the General Fund are subject to these regulations, including statutory allowances, to the same extent as are state employees. Funds specifically appropriated or legally directed for student travel are authorized to be used for student travel expenses. Official state business is defined in section 5.0.3.

Approval for non-employee General Fund student travel to fulfill course requirements for academic credit must have written prior approval of the Vice Chancellor for Finance or his/her designee.

The purchase of food or beverage for students at higher education institutions is not allowable unless the student is in travel status. However, non-General Funds may be used for these purposes if such funds have been established and authorized for such purposes.

5.7.4 Attendants

Payment of travel and subsistence expenses (hotel and meal costs) for attendants for handicapped employees while traveling on official State business may be reimbursed to the same extent as are state employees if advance approval is obtained from the department head or his or her designee.

5.7.5 Expert Witness Fees

A person used by any State department, agency, commission, committee, licensing board, or council as an expert witness may be reimbursed an agreed upon fee by said group. All travel costs will be reimbursed the same as for state employees.

 

5.8 Conferences, Seminars, Workshops, Training Sessions and Retreats

5.8.1 External Conference Definition

External conferences are those that involve the attendance of persons other than the employees of a single State department, institution or agency. Payment for meals is allowable if included in the registration fee, but such fee must not consist exclusively of meals or it will not be allowable unless meeting overnight travel criteria. The registration fee is typically made for defraying the cost of speakers, building (room) use, handout materials, breaks and lunches at conferences and conventions. These fees are charged to Account 532930 - "Registration Fees." The agency may require itemization and/or documentation of expenses. Conferences sponsored or co-sponsored by a State department are authorized when they meet the limitations and requirements listed below.

5.8.2 Exception Regarding Conference Meals

Pursuant to G.S. 138-6(a)(3), a university or State agency cannot use funds to pay for conference meals for state employees at which a conference fee was not charged, unless the following conditions are met:

  • Federal grants, other grants, state, or institutional trust funds (as defined in G.S. 116-36.1) may be used for meals if the conditions attached to those funds allow for the provision of meals for a conference. The university or agency must have documentation of the conditions. If this is the case, then meals may be provided to state employees even if a registration fee was not charged. The employee may not request reimbursement for the meal.

5.8.3 Requirements and Limitations for External Conferences

  • The conference is planned in detail in advance, with a formal agenda or curriculum.
  • There is a written invitation to participants, setting forth the calendar of events, the social activities, if any, and the detailed schedule of costs.
  • Assemblies should be held in State facilities; however, non-state facilities can be rented and the cost charged to a State agency without allocation to participants' daily subsistence allowances.
  • The sponsoring department may charge registration fees to participants for costs of external conferences.

Registration fees may not include costs of entertainment, alcoholic beverages, setups, flowers and/or promotional (gift) items. Registration fees collected and not used to defray expenses of the particular conference may not be used for other programs and must revert to the general or highway fund as applicable (G.S. 138-6(a)(4)).

Sponsoring departments may provide refreshments for "coffee breaks" provided there are twenty or more participants and the costs do not exceed four dollars and fifty cents ($4.50) per participant per day.

When assemblies are to be held under the sponsorship of a State department in which the funding for all participants is budgeted, lump-sum payments to a conference center or an organization may be made upon written authorization from the department head or his or her designee. The authorization must provide the following:

  • The number of persons expected to attend;
  • The purpose and duration of the conference;
  • The specific meals to be served at the conference (law prohibits lunches being provided to state employees unless registration fees are charged to all attendees);
  • The approximate daily subsistence cost per person;
  • The name of the conference center, hotel, caterer, or other organization providing the service.

It is the responsibility of the departments to ensure that reimbursement for meals included in the lump-sum payment is not also included in reimbursement payments made to state employees who are conference participants.

5.8.4 Internal Conference Definition

Internal conferences are those that involve the attendance of employees within that particular department, institution or agency only. No payment for meals is allowable unless overnight travel criteria are met. A routine staff meeting is not an internal conference.

5.8.5 Requirements and Limitations for Internal Conferences

  • The conference is planned in detail in advance, with a formal agenda or curriculum.
  • There is a written invitation to participants, setting forth the calendar of events and the detailed schedule of costs.
  • No excess travel subsistence may be granted for internal departmental meetings, conferences, seminars, etc., and such meetings must be held in state facilities when available. No registration fee may be charged.
  • Sponsoring departments may provide refreshments for "coffee breaks" provided there are twenty or more participants and costs do not exceed four dollars and fifty cents ($4.50) per participant per day.
  • A department cannot use State funds to provide promotional or gift items to be distributed at the conference.
  • A department cannot use State funds to support or underwrite a rally, celebration, reception, employee appreciation activity, or similar function.
  • A department cannot use State funds to support or underwrite a meeting, assembly, conference, seminar, or similar function by whatever name called that promotes any cause or purpose other than the mission and objective of the department.

5.8.6 Training Session Definition

Employee training involves courses that further develop an employee’s knowledge, skill, and ability to perform the duties of his/her present job, such as courses on computer usage or management skills development. These courses generally have a set fee, are of relatively short duration, and are not part of a curriculum the employee is participating in leading to an educational degree.

5.8.7 Requirements and Limitations for Training Sessions

  • Fees for training courses that provide training in specific areas are charged in the accounting system to "Employee Training" under "Other Services."
  • Departments sponsoring training sessions may provide refreshments for "coffee breaks" provided there are twenty or more participants and costs do not exceed four dollars and fifty cents ($4.50) per participant per day.
  • Departments may reimburse employees for training books and materials related to training sessions, provided those books are required to participate in the training sessions. These books are considered property of the department and not the personal property of the employee.

5.8.8 Management Retreat Definition

A management retreat is a meeting or series of meetings consisting of a department or division head and his or her top assistants and coworkers. Retreats are sometimes held at a site other than the usual workplace and are held no greater than once a year.

5.8.9 Requirements and Limitations for Management Retreats

State employees who are elected by a vote of the people or appointed by the governor, the president of The University of North Carolina, the chancellors of the constituent institutions of the university, the executive director of University of North Carolina Hospitals at Chapel Hill, chairman of the State Board of Education, and the president of the North Carolina Community College System may authorize an annual management retreat. Expenditures are permissible in a manner as if it were an internal conference.

 

5.9 Informal Meetings with Guests of Department Heads

5.9.1 Informal Meeting Definition

An informal meeting is a meeting consisting of a department head or his/her designee and non-state employees during which official State business is discussed for the majority of the meeting. Informal meetings are one-time occurrences and are not held on a recurring or routine basis.

5.9.2 Requirements and Limitations for informal meetings

State employees who are elected by a vote of the people or appointed by the governor, the president of The University of North Carolina, the chancellors of the constituent institutions of the university, the executive director of University of North Carolina Hospitals at Chapel Hill, chairman of the State Board of Education, and the President of the North Carolina Community College System, or their designees, when given prior written approval by the department head for a specific event, may be reimbursed from State funds for actual costs of meals for themselves and individuals who are not state employees who are their guests, when accompanying them in the course of conducting official State business. Cost of meals and other expenses for family members of the above referenced State officials are not reimbursable.

 

5.10 Telephone Calls

5.10.1 Long Distance

Employees are not allowed to charge long distance phone calls to the State for calls made of a personal nature, except as stated below. All long distance calls that are to be paid by the State are those made pursuant to the employee conducting official State business.

5.10.2 Reimbursement

Official phone calls are reimbursable under "Miscellaneous." Individual calls over $5.00 must be identified as to point of origin and destination.

5.10.3 Employee emergency calls

Employees may use the State network system or State credit card, or may be reimbursed for a personal long distance call(s) if such call(s) is/are of an emergency nature as determined by the department. An example is a call made when an employee calls home to inform someone that the travel period has been extended beyond original plans due to unforeseen reasons.

5.10.4 Mobile Telephones

Because mobile telephone charges are based on measured use, no personal calls should be made on state-owned mobile telephones except in case of emergency as determined by the department. Mobile telephone calls to conduct official State business should only be used when more economical means of telephoning are not reasonably available.

If an employee uses his/her personal mobile telephone in conducting State business, the employee can be eligible for reimbursement when more economical means of telephoning are not reasonably available. In order for the agency to reimburse the employee, the employee must indicate on his/her telephone bill the reimbursable calls, individuals called, and nature of calls and submit the telephone bill to their supervisor for approval. If the supervisor approves the calls as State business related, the agency will reimburse the actual billed cost of the call.

5.10.5 Exceptions

Any exception to the rules and regulations as herein stated in the State Budget Manual, except those expressly delegated, must be approved in advance by OSBM.

 

5.11 Mobile Communication Device

5.11.1 Mobile Communication Device

Employees whose job duties include the frequent need for a mobile communication device (MCD) may be assigned a state-owned device or may receive an allowance for the use of an employee-owned device. For the purpose of this policy a MCD is any device that provides two-way communication.

5.11.2 State-owned Devices

Any State agency or institution may elect to acquire and provide a mobile communication device to an employee upon justification of necessity and approval from the proper internal authority. A statewide term contract has been executed and all executive State governmental agencies must use this contract, while other State entities may use this contract when purchasing MCD and/or services (Statewide IT Contracts).

The device is considered State property and is to be used for State business purposes only. A review should be conducted annually to re-justify the business need for each state-owned MCD that has been issued.

5.11.3 Employee-owned Devices

Any State agency or institution may elect to provide an allowance to an employee for the business use of their personal MCD. The following requirements must be followed:

  1. MCD allowances are provided only for individuals required to maintain personal cell phones for substantial noncompensatory business reasons. Examples of required substantial noncompensatory business reasons include: (1) the agency/institution’s need to contact the employee at all times for work-related emergencies; or (2) the agency/institution’s requirement that an employee be routinely available to speak with legislators or other elected officials, community leaders, or customers at times outside the normal work schedule or at times when the employee is away from the duty station.
  2. State agencies and institutions must develop an initial business case for the use of MCD allowance. The business case must demonstrate the following:
    1. The use of a MCD allowance in lieu of a state-issued device produces a savings to the State.
    2. Specifically, the calculated savings must show not only an overall savings to the organization as a result of transferring impacted employees from state-issued devices to a monthly allowance; but the savings must be demonstrated for a substantial majority of the impacted individual employees. (i.e., while significant savings for one or two individuals may be sufficient to generate overall savings for an agency, the agency must still show that most employees generate some level of savings).
    3. The basis for comparison to an MCD allowance is the current statewide term contract price of the most conservative plan that meets the employee’s job requirements. (Statewide entities not required to use the State IT contract may substitute locally negotiated contract prices for comparison.)

  3. The business case must be submitted and approved by OSBM prior to the implementation of a MCD allowance policy. Concurrently, the agency‘s internal policies and procedures for the MCD allowance must be submitted to OSBM.
  4. State agencies and institutions must develop a flat or tiered allowance, based upon the volume of use, for the business use of personal MCDs.
  5. Necessity of a MCD allowance must be justified, documented and approved by the proper internal authority.
  6. Each individual MCD allowance must be reviewed and justified every fiscal year.
  7. Each employee who receives a MCD allowance must provide documentation, such as an annual contract or a monthly billing statement, which shows that the allowance does not exceed expenses the employee actually incurs in maintaining the device. This documentation should be provided at least annually to the proper internal authority. If the documentation shows that the employee’s MCD allowance exceeds the employee’s typical monthly cost, the employee’s allowance must be reduced to a lower tier, so that the allowance does not exceed expenses incurred by the employee.

MCD records could be subject to the North Carolina public records law (General Statute §132

An employee receiving a MCD allowance may not be reimbursed for business or personal calls allowable during travel status as outlined in section 5.10 Phone Calls

 

Travel Policies and Regulations Index

Aircraft owned by state employee

Airport, travel to/from

Attendants

Bus

Cancellations

Charter aircraft flights

Commissions, committees, councils

Common carrier

Commuting

Conferences, external

Conferences, internal

Convention registration
legislators
licensing boards
state employees

Coupons, reduced air fare

Destination, use of state vehicle at

Employee responsibility

Exceptions

Expert witness fees

Informal meetings

Licensing boards

Lodging

Management retreat

Meals

Mobile Communication Device

Non-state employees
riders
travel policies

Out-of-country travel

Out-of state travel

Passport

Per diem compensation
legislators
members of licensing boards
members of state boards, commissions, and councils
state employees

Personal vehicle use

Political functions and travel

Prospective employee travel

Reduced air fare certificates

Reimbursements
lodging and meals
telephone calls

Rental vehicle guidelines

Required staff and meals

Shuttle services

State employee as a board member

State vehicle usage

Student travel policies

Subsistence rates

Super-saver rates

Telephone calls

Tolls

Training session

Transportation carriers

Transportation reimbursement
legislators
members of licensing boards
members of state boards, commissions, and councils
state employees

Travel agent fees

Travel by state officials

Travel advances

Travel authorizations